Turkey disputes ‘no warning’ claim

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DOHA (Al Jazeera): The Turkish army has released what it said was audio recordings of warnings to a Russian warplane before it was shot down along the Syrian border.

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A voice in one of the recordings can be heard saying in English: “You are approaching Turkish airspace, change your heading”.

According to the Turkish armed forces, the warnings were issued by the Diyarbakir airbase and not by pilots.

The release of the recordings late on Wednesday came after the rescued pilot of the Russian jet said that the plane had received no warnings from the Turkish air force.

“There was no warning, not by radio exchange nor visually. There was no contact at all,” pilot Konstantin Murakhtin told Russian journalists at Moscow’s airbase in Syria after being rescued by special forces.

Murakhtin, whose crewmate was shot and killed after parachuting from the burning jet, said the plane could not have entered Turkish airspace “even for one second.”

“I could perfectly see on the map and on the ground where the border was and where we were,” he said.

‘Planned provocation’
The Russian Sukhoi Su-24 warplane was shot down on Tuesday for allegedly violating Turkish airspace.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Murakhtin and those involved in the rescue operation would be decorated, while the second pilot will posthumously be given Russia’s highest award for valor, the Hero of Russia medal.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov described the downing of the warplane by Turkey as a “planned provocation.”

He said Moscow would seriously reconsider its relations with Ankara over the incident but said the two countries would not go to war.

“Our attitude to the Turkish people has not changed. We have questions over the action of Turkey’s current leadership,” he said.

Turning down the heat
Turkey has defended its actions, saying that shooting down the plane was necessary for security.

Speaking at an Organization of Islamic Cooperation economy meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country did not want an escalation of the situation.

“Turkey is never on the side of tension or hostility. We’re always for peace and diplomacy. And we will maintain that attitude. We will not tolerate our borders being violated. And no one should expect us to. We do not have any intension to escalate any situation, we are only defending our security,” Erdogan said.

TNS

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